Can you? We’ll break it down momentarily.
Should you? That’s another question entirely.
Let’s start with the more objective of the two:
The question of whether you can demand extra work of employees outside of their typical or expected hours technically comes down to the difference between exempt and non-exempt status.
Exempt vs. Non-Exempt
Non-exempt employees must be compensated at or above minimum wage for any extra work; overtime must be paid at the required premium.
Properly classified exempt employees (often called salaried employees) don’t legally need to be paid for extra work. With that said, myHR Partner does not support this practice – which brings us to that second question:
Should you require employees to do extra work outside of scheduled hours if needed?
Short answer: Whenever possible, no.
We understand that businesses have unexpected needs on occasion that land outside of standard scheduled hours. It happens to us, too. When it does, we encourage leadership to ask (not tell) employees of the need with as much notice as possible, and make sure they’re compensated generously if they say yes – either via the same (or more) amount of time off during standard working hours, via added compensation, or both. Make it abundantly clear that you’re appreciative of their willingness to uproot their lives and schedules to step in and help.
And here’s the kicker:
We encourage this even if the employee is exempt – for a few reasons.
The first is the simple math. Your salaried employee agreed to a certain number of weekly hours at a flat rate. Start tacking on unpaid hours here and there, and the agreed-upon hourly rate takes a hit. This is simply unfair and to be avoided. But our conviction on this matter actually goes well beyond the financials. Asking more than what’s expected of your employees in any scenarios, but especially in the absence of compensation, can foster resentment, burnout, and ill will that’s more perilous to businesses today than ever before. In efforts to save a few hundred dollars by asking a salaried employee to work, say, a conference booth for free, you’re setting the stage for larger company-wide issues that are likely to cost you dearly. It’s why myHR Partner commits to a 40-hour work week and encourages our clients to do the same. Studies show time and time again that expecting performance from tired, overworked employees is like trying to get blood from a stone: That is, you won’t get it – and you’ll create larger problems in the process.
Have more questions about this or other employee-related matters? Reach out to myHR Partner. We can answer your specific questions and show you how a culture of balance and fairness has benefitted other businesses like yours. Email us at TellMeMore@myhrpartnerinc.com.